Conditions on hike to Helen Lake (Northern California)
Had a question from challenger Liz who wrote:
I asked a few friends to join me on the Helen Lake hike and they don’t want to do it citing avalanche risks. Please share your thoughts and experiences as I am considering substituting a different hike.
Here’s my response:
There are no risks of avalanche hiking to Helen Lake at this time. That may be a bold statement, but it’s late season, and there is a lot of snow melt.
One of our other challengers just hiked it on August 9th. Check out the photos from her hike log: https://socialhiker.net/hike_log/ghost-of-helen-lake/
If you wanted to venture further, that’s a different story. Above Helen Lake is “Avalanche Gulch” it’s not prone to avalanches this time of year (too little snow), but it is steep, with scree and loose rock. Not advised.
I climbed Mt Shasta in June 2018, and you can see photos of the section up to Helen Lake on my blog: https://socalhiker.net/climbing-mount-shasta-via-avalanche-gulch/
There was nothing technical up to Helen Lake, and there will be less snow now then there was when I hiked it.
I also recommend the Mount Shasta Avalanche Center, which has detailed information on current conditions. Note that they currently do not see any avalanche conditions, though they mention rockfall risk on the upper mountain (above Helen Lake).
Hope this helps you convince your friends to join you. There is a really cool shelter at Horse Camp where John Muir stopped when he climbed Shasta. Awesome maps, books, and artifacts.
If anyone has first-hand knowledge to add to this, please reply here.
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